Growing Tomorrow’s Stewards:
The Benefits of Youth Forestry Education

Students examine the differences across species of pine cones. (Photo by Amanda Loman)

Nestled in Clackamas County’s woodland ownership, the Hopkins Demonstration Forest has been a partner with OSU Extension for over three decades. With a haven for nature exploration, we can offer outdoor youth forestry programs in a place where growing and learning go hand in hand. By immersing young minds in the wonders of nature, outdoor youth programs foster a connection with the environment.

Students not only learn about our local forests, their management, and history but also gain an understanding of the interconnectedness of ecosystems and instill a sense of responsibility for the natural world. Beyond providing a classroom for OSU Extension’s young participants, the Hopkins Demonstration Forest is a living laboratory prioritizing experiential learning. Students can touch, feel, and explore, making their education tangible and memorable. Whether it is identifying tree species, tracking wildlife, focusing on timber harvesting, or participating in forest restoration, these hands-on experiences leave a lasting impact.

For some of the high school career technical education students, these programs serve as a stepping-stone toward a career in forestry, environmental science, or conservation. By exposing young minds to various aspects of these fields, the forest helps them make informed decisions about their future education and career paths. This year, the OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension youth programs served over 5,000 students in Clackamas County.